When China went the "nuclear" devaluation route earlier this week, everyone knew things were about to get a whole lot worse for an EM currency basket that was already reeling from plunging commodity prices, slumping Chinese demand, and the threat of an imminent Fed hike. With some Asian currencies already falling to levels last seen 17 years ago, some analysts fear that an Asian Financial Crisis 2.0 may be just around the corner. That rather dire prediction may have been validated on Friday when Malaysia’s ringgit registered its largest one-day loss in almost two decades, as stocks plunged and bond yields rose.
After a week of relentless FX volatility, spilling over out of China and into all other countries, and asset products, it was as if the market decided to take a time-out overnight, assisted by the PBOC which after three days of record devaluations finally revalued the Yuan stronger fractionally by 0.05% to 6.3975. And then, as a parting gift perhaps, just as the market was about to close again, the Chinese central bank intervened sending the Onshore Yuan, spiking to a level of 6.3912 as of this writing, notably stronger than the official fixing for the second day in a row. In fact the biggest news out of China overnight is that contrary to expectations, the PBOC once again "added" to its gold holdings, boosting its official gold by 610,000 ounces, or 19 tons, to 1,677 tones.
Between a rather alarming three-day plunge and rampant accusations that Beijing entered the global currency wars solely to export China’s deflation and prop up its flagging economy, the PBoC had apparently seen enough. Cue an ad hoc, "forceful" press conference. Here is the full breakdown.
“Maybe this isn’t a great indication of the state of the economy.”
With everyone now focused on what China's daily Yuan fixing will be ever night, there was some confusion why last night the PBOC decided to devalue the CNY by another 1.1% to 6.4010, despite its promise that the devaluation would be a "one-off" event, taking the 3 day devaluation to just about 4.5%. However, subsequently in a press conference, central bank vice-governor Yi Gang said that the PBoC will continue to step in when the market is ‘distorted’, that there is no economic basis for the Yuan to fall continuously and that it will look to keep the exchange rate ‘basically stable’. The Vice-Governor also said that the PBoC will closely monitor cross-border capital flows and that reports suggesting the Central Banks wants to see the currency depreciate 10% are ‘groundless’. Which is ironic considering after just 3 days, the PBOC is already half the way there!
The violence in Turkey has escalated meaningfully over the past 48 hours as the country's crackdown on "terrorists" gathers steam and as Washington and Ankara ready a "comprehensive" plan to take the fight to ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister met with his Russian counterpart in Moscow where the two argued about the fate of Bashar al-Assad, while al-Qaeda refused to back the US and Turkey's "ISIS-free zone" because they believe it serves only to advance Ankara's narrow political interests. In short: "It's a friggin' mess."
After what were described as "marathon" negotiations, Greece and its creditors have agreed to the terms of the country’s third bailout program. Although some remain optimistic, the general consensus seems to be that, as Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said over the weekend, "we should just admit that this isn't going to work."
Goldman has truly outdone itself with this one: in addition to purchasing the former Danish PM, and by implication, the current PM and his former fin-min protege, and assuring the DONG scandal quietly goes away, Goldman just hired the former head of NATO: from 2009 to 2014 Anders Fogh Rasmussen served as the 12th Secretary General of NATO.
Here is an overview of next week's events and data placed in the larger context.
Coal powered electricity is currently by far the cheapest and one of the most reliable forms of electricity generation known to Man. To suggest that replacing this with intermittent wind and solar or carbon capture generation will somehow reduce American’s electricity bills is either delusional or plain stupid. Or is the intention to deliberately deceive?
It has been more of the same in the latest quiet overnight session where many await tomorrow's NFP data for much needed guidance, and where Chinese markets opened weaker, rose during the day, then went through a mini rollercoaster, then sold off in the afternoon. The Shanghai Composite and HS China Enterprises indices finished down .9% and .3%, respectively. Trading volume continued to be very subdued, running at half the thirty day average as some 20 million "investors" have pulled out of the market to be replaced with HFTs such as Virtu. But while stock action has been muted, the story of the night so far is oil and the energy complex broke out of a tight overnight range early in the European session to continue yesterday's downward trend, seeing WTI Sep'15 futures fall below the USD 45.00 handle after yesterday's DoE crude oil inventories saw US crude output rise by 0.552%. As of this moment oil was trading at $44.72, just pennies above the low print of 2015.
The truly incredible thing about US foreign policy outcomes is that there are seemingly no limits on how absurd they can be. Indeed, Washington’s uncanny ability to paint itself into policy corners and create the most thoroughly flummoxing geopolitical quagmires in the history of statecraft knows absolutely no bounds.
Overly myopic investors/creditors will continue to be confident in various drillers, based on the numbers of initial production (IP) data extrapolations and balance sheets, but will in the near future spend sleepless nights wondering why such good IPs and strong balance sheets produces poor or no profits and/or why they do not fully receive the money lent. Their worries will gradually morph from being focused on return on investment to return of investment. The mysteries created by Nature’s lack of cooperation with the balance sheets will surpass any other existential questions.
- Unhappy Voters Shake Up Presidential Race (WSJ)
- China stock exchanges step up crackdown on short-selling (Reuters)
- China Dethroned as World’s Most Liquid Stock Market After Curbs (BBG)
- Xiaomi retakes the smartphone lead in China as Apple slips (Engadget)
- Impact of EPA’s Emissions Rule on Industry to Vary (WSJ)
- Citadel’s Ken Griffin Leaves 2008 Tumble Far Behind (WSJ)
- Greece says expects bailout deal by Aug 18 (Reuters)
Amid the collapse in coal prices, not helped by the 'China situation' and President Obama's nudge, WSJ reports that the ailing US coal just got another black eye as Alpha Natural Resources is expected to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Monday to cut its more than $3 billion debt load. After four straight annual losses, Alpha - one of America's largest coal producers - has secured $692mm in DIP financing as it prepares its restructuring plan expected to sell some of the best mines and shutter others. It appears the Arch Coal's CEO's ominous words last week were prophetic - “Coal markets are as difficult as I’ve seen them during my 30 years in the industry."